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in my university context we use some expensive software for which we have a single-license on a single machine. Having to share a single license in this manner is suboptimal: users need to go sit down at the foreign desk, hopefully didn't forget their data, and hope that nobody else is using it. But the multi-user site license is prohibitively expensive.

An attractive alternative may be to connect to the relevant machine by VNC/remote desktop instead. However, if two people connect simultaneously it becomes a mess. And if a single person hogs the connection even though they're not using it that's uncool too.

I'm wondering if there is an easy solution/workaround for this. I think the ideal system would consist in a website to which users log on and receive a temporary password (e.g. for a 1 hour session), with which they can connect to VNC (the VNC server's password correspondingly changes over time). More elaborate would be with a reservation system...

Any ideas? Cheers, Yannick

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Contact the software provider and get a quote for an academic license. It's usually much cheaper than a normal retail license.

Failing that, pony up for the license.

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Indeed an academic site license is cheaper. But the issue remains... –  Yannick Wurm Jan 10 '12 at 14:51
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Then you need to go to the board (or who ever runs the school) and state your case for money for the license fee for the software. You'll need to show how having the correct license will increase efficiency, reduce waste in other places, etc. This is the same thing I have to do every time I ask a client to spend money on software or hardware. When done correctly it usually works pretty well. –  mrdenny Jan 11 '12 at 2:32
    
I fully agree with your points. However, first I have an obligation to taxpayers to use their money efficiently. Second, there only little money is available. Thus I'm trying to find a compromise that will allow me to retain using the big political efforts towards things that will be more useful to more people in the medium-term (such as upgrading a cluster that is 8 years old...) –  Yannick Wurm Jan 11 '12 at 9:25
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I agree that the money needs to be spent efficiently. However if the software is needed to run things, then it's needed to run things. How many staff hours are wasted waiting for the one computer to be available? How much does that staff get paid per hour? At some number of hours the software pays for itself. It sounds like the school has some serious technical dept to pay off. –  mrdenny Jan 11 '12 at 10:03

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